Are Propane Sauna Heaters Better Than Electric?

Propane Sauna Heater - Vico/Scandia model

Propane sauna heaters, like their natural gas counterparts, are an underrated but highly effective option. Unlike natural gas, propane offers more flexibility as the heater doesn’t need to be connected directly to your home’s gas line. This makes a propane sauna heater an ideal choice for remote locations that don’t have a convenient power supply.

Anyone who has ever used a portable tank on their outdoor grill knows how propane works. Propane is a three-carbon alkaline gas that can be compressed into liquid form for easy storage and portability. It was first introduced in the early 20th century and came into popular use by the 1920’s. Today, propane tanks of various sizes are used for everything from grills to stoves to generators and, of course, sauna heaters.

The size of heater you need for your unit is easy to figure out: generally, gas sauna heaters require about 1,000 BTUs for every 15 cubic feet of sauna.

For example, a 4-person sauna measuring 8’W x 10’L x 7’H equals 560 cubic feet, which will require a 40,000 BTU propane heater. In general, the heater needs to be powerful enough to effectively heat the space without heating the air directly. The heat should be directed to the stones and then diffused into the overall space.

Looking for for a high quality propane or gas heater? Visit Torch & get free shipping!

(Mention Sauna Talk for 50% off a thermometer with any heater purchase)

In order to achieve that diffusion, propane and gas heaters work in much the same way as electric heaters. A gas burner, fed either by a natural gas line or a propane tank, heats the metal plate holding the sauna stones. As the stones warm up, they heat the air in the room. Water can be added to the stones to provide a gentle cleansing steam.

Propane tanks have several advantages. Along with being free standing, which allows for their use in a number of locations, they can be refilled and reused. Propane warms faster with lower energy costs so it is also more cost efficient than electric heating and propane heaters work well even in colder climates, so you can use your spa at any time of year. 

If protecting the environment is important to you, then propane is definitely the best way to go as it operates much more cleanly than other fuels with less greenhouse gas emissions.

How Do You Install a Propane Sauna Heater?

As with a gas heater, you’ll need to have a licensed HVAC professional install your propane sauna heater to ensure that it is handled safely.  This is a must, as your warranty may be voided if the gas or propane sauna stove is not installed correctly.

The contractor will determine the proper size of propane tank according to the BTU content of the heater. Propane tanks must be installed and used properly to avoid any safety hazards. Each local area has its own codes for propane use, so be sure to look up the codes for your area and ensure that you are following them carefully. 

Here are a few safety tips for installing a Propane/gas burning sauna stove:

·       Check regulations regarding clearances from the sauna heater to the ceiling and walls.

·       The room must have noncombustible floor and walls.

·       The sauna stove must be connected to its own dedicated flue system.

·       The heater must have a draft diverter installed above the gas stove on the flue pipe.

·       Gas heaters need an external air intake separate from the ventilation system used to circulate air for breathing and heat.

·       The stove’s gas and temperature controls must be located and operated from outside the sauna room.

·       Power outlets cannot be installed in the sauna room.

How Do You Use the Propane Heater?

Two Vico Scandia Propane/Gas Sauna Heaters

Once the installation is complete, the contractor will run the heater for the first time for you. You should let your propane sauna heater run for 30 minutes before using it for the first bathing session so that the paint on the heater has time to cure.

There are a few basic tips for using your propane tank:

·       Always check the gauge on your tank before using to ensure that you have enough fuel. Most manufacturers recommend that you have 20% capacity or more in the tank in order to run it safely. Since propane tanks are only filled to 80% capacity, you’ll want to keep a careful eye on your tank to determine whether it needs to be refilled.

·       Make sure that your tank is situated in a shaded area, out of direct sunlight and away from any open flames.

·       Place the tank on a firm, even surface so that it remains in a steady, upright position at all times.

·       You should never attempt to repair or modify any part of your propane tank or connection as propane can be highly combustible. Always consult with a licensed contractor for repairs.

With your propane tank properly installed, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of your propane sauna heater. Like natural gas heaters, propane sauna heaters provide a softer, more comfortable heat that can be enhanced with the addition of steam. 

What's the Best Propane Sauna Heater?

When it comes to propane sauna heaters, there are two great brands to choose from: Torch and Scandia-Vico. They have been building high quality sauna heaters for years and currently have several models available, all constructed with high quality standards. 

Torch Propane Heater

Torch TS-60 and TS-80 Propane/Gas Sauna Heaters

Torch gas sauna heaters come in 2 sizes, the TS-60F (60,000 BTU's) and TS-80F (80,000 BTU's).  Torch Gas Sauna heaters can be ordered to either use Propane Gas (LP) or Natural gas. 

The Torch TS-60F gas sauna heater will heat a properly insulated sauna as big as 500 cubic ft.

The Torch TS-80F gas sauna heater will heat a properly insulated sauna over 500 cubic feet. 

One of the best parts about Torch sauna heaters is that there is no electricity required. They have a standing pilot and they have temperature and timer controls. 

Compared to other heaters on the market it is quick to heat up, which makes it a great choice. Plus, shipping is free in the US!


(Mention Sauna Talk for 50% off a thermometer with any heater purchase)

Scandia 280 and 240 Heaters With Specs

Scandia-Vico 240/280 Propane/Gas Sauna Heaters

Both models of Scandia-Vico propane/gas sauna heaters are floor mounted and constructed of 100% 321 Spec Stainless Steel, the same materials used in jet engine after burners. They are sealed combustion heaters that require no gas or flue connections inside the sauna itself.

The solid rock tray is the largest in the industry, designed to hold up to 160 lbs. of high-density rocks, which are included with your purchase. They also feature an eight gallon water capacity allowing for maximum steam effects.

The two models differ according to their BTU capabilities, with the 240 having a 40,000 BTU limit and measuring 30” x 30” while the 280 has an 80,000 BTU limit and measures slightly larger at 40.5” x 42”.

Both units come with either a pilot light or piezo ignition system and can be vented either horizontally or vertically depending on the design of your sauna. Each model comes with a draft hood for vertical venting or a flue cap for direct venting.

They can heat up to a 616 cubic foot room and come with “G” wall controls with a standard 60 minute or 24 hour timer and a mechanical thermostat to protect against overheating. As of this writing they cost roughly at $3,150 with the pilot light or $3,350 with the piezo ignition. 

What's the Bottom Line on Propane Sauna Heaters?

People have been enjoying the therapeutic benefits of sauna bathing for generations and today sauna therapy is used for everything from stress relief to recovery after exercise. Studies even show that the warmth and steam of a sauna can help treat a variety of medical conditions, including migraines, high blood pressure and even Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  

There are many types of sauna heater available – including wood, electric, gas, and infrared – and any of them can provide a relaxing and enjoyable sauna experience. The type you choose will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the sauna and its location.

Aside from a traditional wood sauna, nothing is better for remote or mobile saunas than a clean, efficient and cost effective propane sauna heater. With a propane heater you can get the sauna experience you crave no matter where you are and no matter what the weather.  

Share this page: